The Month of Safar
The month of Safar is one of the twelve Hijri months, and it is the month which comes after Muharram. Some of the (scholars) said that it is so named because of the emptying (isfaar) of Makkah (i.e., its people would all leave) when they travelled during this month. It was also said that this month is named Safar because they used to raid other tribes at this time, and they would leave those whom they encountered bereft of their possessions (sifran min al-mataa’) – i.e., they would take all their belongings away and they would leave them with nothing.
(See Lisaan al-‘Arab by Ibn al-Mandhoor, part 4, p. 462-463)
Our discussion of this month will cover the following points:
1. What has been narrated concerning it from the Arabs of the Jaahiliyyah.
2. What has been narrated in Islam that contradicts the views of people of the Jaahiliyyah concerning this month.
4. False ahaadeeth that have been narrated concerning Safar.
___________________________________1. What has been narrated concerning it from the Arabs of the Jaahiliyyah.
The Arabs were guilty of two serious wrongdoings concerning the month of Safar. Firstly, they played about with it, bringing it forward or postponing it, and secondly, they had superstitions concerning it.
(i) It is known that Allaah created the year and the number of its months is twelve, four of which Allaah has made sacred, in which it was forbidden to fight, out of respect for these months. These months are: Dhu’l-Qi’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab.
This is confirmed in the Book of Allaah, where Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, the number of months with Allaah is twelve months (in a year), so was it ordained by Allaah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are Sacred (i.e. the 1st, the 7th, the 11th and the 12th months of the Islamic calendar). That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein…” [al-Tawbah 9:36]
The mushrikeen were aware of that, but they used to postpone it or bring it forward according to their whims and desires, such as putting Safar in place of Muharram! They used to believe that ‘Umrah during the months of Hajj was one of the most evil of actions. There follow some of the comments of the scholars on that.
(a) It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with them both) said: “They used to think that ‘Umrah during the months of Hajj was one of the most evil of actions on earth. They would make Muharram Safar, and they used to say, ‘When the wounds of the camel’s back heal up (after they return from Hajj) and the footprints of the camels vanish and the month of Safar passes away then (at that time) ‘Umra is permissible for the one who wishes to perform it.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1489; Muslim, 1240)
(b) Ibn al-‘Arabi said:
“The second issue: how postponing (al-nasiy) was done:
(i) It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas that Junaadah ibn ‘Awf ibn Umayyah al-Kinaani used to come on this occasion each year, and he would call out that no one could criticize Abu Thamaamah or reject what he said, and that Safar in the first year would not be sacred, then we would make it sacred one year and not the next year. They were with Hawaazin, Ghatafaan and Bani Sulaym.
According to another version, he used to say, “We have brought Muharram forward and postponed Safar.” Then the next year he would say, “We will make Safar sacred and delay Muharram.” This was the postponement.
(ii) Adding. Qutaadah said: Some of the people of misguidance deliberately added Safar to the sacred months. Their spokesman would stand up on this occasion and say, “Your gods have made Muharram sacred this year,” and they would regard it as sacred that year. Then the next year he would stand up and say, “Your gods have made Safar sacred,” so they would regard it as sacred that year. And they would say (that there were) two Safars. Ibn Wahb and Ibn al-Qaasim narrated something similar from Maalik, who said: the people of the Jaahiliyyah used to have two Safars, hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “(There is) no Safar.” Ashhab also narrated something similar from him.
(ii) Changing the time of Hajj. Mujaahid said with a different isnaad: “ ‘The postponing (of a Sacred Month) is indeed an addition to disbelief’ [al-Tawbah 9:37 – interpretation of the meaning] – they would perform Hajj in Dhu’l-Hijjah for two years, then they would perform Hajj in Muharram for two years, then they would perform Hajj in Safar for two years. They would perform Hajj in each month for two years until, when Abu Bakr performed Hajj that was in Dhu’l-Qi’dah, then when the Prophet performed Hajj it was in Dhu’l-Hijjah. Hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said in his sermon, according to the saheeh hadeeth:
“Time has completed a cycle and assumed the form of the day Allaah created the heavens and the earth.” Narrated by Ibn ‘Abbaas and others. This version was narrated by him. And he said:
“The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
‘O people, listen to what I say, for I do not know whether I will meet you again after this day in this place. O people, your blood and your wealth are sacred until the Day when you meet your Lord, as sacred as this day of yours in this month of yours in this land of your. You will meet your Lord and He will question you about your deeds. I have conveyed (the message). Whoever has had something entrusted to him, let him fulfil that trust.
All riba is abolished. You shall have your capital sums, deal not unjustly and you shall not be dealt with unjustly. Allaah decreed that there should be no riba. The riba of ‘Abbaas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib is abolished. All claims for blood-vengeance belonging to the jaahiliyyah period have been abolished. The first of those murdered among us whose blood-vengeance I remit is Ibn Rabee’ah ibn al-Haarith ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, who was suckled among Banu Layth and killed by Hudhayl.” He was the first one whose blood-vengeance of the jaahiliyyah was abolished.
“O people, the Shaytaan has despaired of ever being worshipped in your land, but he will be pleased to be obeyed in any matter other than that, in matters that you may think of as insignificant. So beware of him in matters of your religion. The postponing (of a Sacred Month) is indeed an addition to disbelief, by which the disbelievers are led astray… Time has completed a cycle and assumed the form of the day Allaah created the heavens and the earth. The number of months with Allaah is twelve, of which four are sacred, three consecutive months, and Rajab Mudar which comes between Jumaada and Sha’baan…” and he mentioned the rest of the hadeeth.
(Ahkaam al-Qur’aan, 2/503-504)
2. With regard to superstitions concerning the month of Safar, these were well known among the people of the Jaahiliyyah, and still exist among some of those who claim to be Muslims.
It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “(There is) no ‘Adwa (no contagious disease is conveyed without Allah’s permission), nor is there any bad omen (from birds), nor is there any Haamah, nor is there any (bad omen in the month of) Safar, and one should run away from the leper as one runs away from a lion.”
(narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5387; Muslim, 2220)
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
“The word ‘Safar’ was interpreted in several ways:
(i) that it refers to the well-known month of Safar, concerning which the Arabs were superstitious.
(ii) That it refers to a stomach disease of camels, which is passed from one camel to another, and that this mentioned in conjunction with the word ‘adwa (contagion) in the sense of mentioning something specific in conjunction with something general.
(iii) That ‘Safar’ means the month of Safar, and that what is referred to here is the postponing of Sacred Months by which those who disbelieved were led astray, when they would delay the sacred months and make Safar sacred one year and not the next.
The most correct of these views is that what is meant is the month of Safar, concerning which there were many superstitions during the Jaahiliyyah.
Times have no effect (on people’s lives) and Allaah never decreed that it should have any effect. Like any other month, both good and bad may be decreed during this month.
If a particular action is completed on the twenty-fifth of Safar – for example – some people note the date and say, “It has been finished on the twenty-fifth of this good month of Safar.” This is like refuting one innovation with another, because there are no good or bad months. Hence some of the salaf denounced those who, when they hear the hooting of an owl, say, “It is good, in sha Allaah.” It cannot be said that this is good or bad, it is simply the sound of a bird, like any other bird.
The four things which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) denied (in the hadeeth referred to above) indicate that we must put our trust in Allaah and be sincere and determined; the Muslim should not feel helpless when faced with these things.
If a Muslim does pay any attention to such things, one of the following must apply in his case:
Either he pays attention to them in deciding whether to go ahead or refrain, in which case he is basing his actions on something that is not real.
Or he does not pay attention to them with regard to deciding whether to go ahead or refrain, but he still feels some kind of worry or anxiety. Although this is not as bad as the first case, he should not pay any attention to these things at all, rather he should depend only on Allaah.
The denial of these four things is not a denial of their existence, for they do exist; it is a denial of their having any effect on things, for the One Who affects things is Allaah. If there is a reason that is known to have effects, then this is a real reason, and any reason which is merely imagined is a false reason. So we deny its effect and it has no effect. ”
(Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 2/113, 115)
2. What has been narrated in Islam that contradicts the views of people of the Jaahiliyyah concerning this month
We have quoted above the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah narrated in al-Saheehayn, which explains that the belief of the people of Jaahiliyyah concerning Safar was reprehensible, and that is it simply one of the months of Allaah and it has no will of its own, it simply passes, subject to the control of Allaah.
3. Innovations and false beliefs concerning this month that exist among people who claim to be Muslims.
(1) The Standing Committee was asked:
Some of the scholars in our country claim that in the Islamic religion there is a naafil (supererogatory) prayer which is prayed on the last Wednesday of the month of Safar, at the time of Duha (mid-morning) prayer, (consisting of) four rak’ahs with one tasleem. In each rak’ah one recites Soorat al-Faatihah, Soorat al-Kawthar seventeen times, Soorat al-Ikhlaas 50 times, al-Mi’wadhatayn (the last two soorahs of the Qur’aan) one time each. This is done in each rak’ah, then one says salaam, and when one says salaam it is prescribed to recite “And Allaah has full power and control over His Affairs, but most of men know not” [Yoosuf 12:21 – interpretation of the meaning] 360 times, and Jawhar al-Kamaal (the essence of perfection) three times, and to finish by saying,
“Glorified be your Lord, the Lord of honour and power! (He is free) from what they attribute unto Him!
And peace be on the Messengers!
And all the praises and thanks be to Allaah, Lord of the ‘Aalameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists)” [al-Saaffaat 37:180-182 – interpretation of the meaning].
And they give charity to the poor, and they say that this aayah is especially for warding off the calamities which come down on the last Wednesday of the month of Safar.
They say that every year, 320,000 calamities come down, and all of that comes down on the last Wednesday of Safar, so that is the most difficult day of the entire year. But whoever prays this prayer in the manner described, Allaah will protect him by His generosity from all the calamities that come down on that day, and they will not come around him, but they will affect those who could not do this prayer, like small children. Is this true?
The scholars of the committee replied:
Praise be to Allaah, and blessings and peace be upon His Messenger and upon his family and his companions.
We do not know of any basis in the Qur’aan or in the Sunnah for the naafil prayer mentioned in the question. We have no proof that any one among the salaf of this ummah or the righteous people of its later generations did this naafil prayer. Rather it is a reprehensible innovation.
It was narrated that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever does an action which is not in accordance with this matter of ours [Islam], will have it rejected.” And he said: “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours that is not part of it, will have it rejected.”
Whoever attributes this prayer and the things that are mentioned with it to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) or to any of the Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them) is fabricating serious lies, and Allaah will give him the punishment for liars which he deserves.
(Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 2/354)
(2) Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Salaam al-Shuqayri said:
The ignorant have the habit of writing down the verses of salaam such as “Salaam (peace) be upon Nooh (Noah) (from Us) among the ‘Aalameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists)!”” [al-Saafaat 37:79 – interpretation of the meaning] etc. on the last Wednesday of the month of Safar, then they put them in vessels and drink it and seek blessings from it, and they give it as gifts to one another, because they believe that this will take away bad things. This is a false belief and a blameworthy superstition, a reprehensible innovation which must be denounced by everyone who sees it.
(al-Sunan wa’l-Mubtada’aat, p. 111, 112)
4. False ahaadeeth that have been narrated concerning Safar.
Ibn al-Qayyim said:
Section of ahaadeeth which give the dates of future events.
This includes ahaadeeth in which it mentions such and such a date, for example, “In the year such and such, such and such will happen” or “In the month such and such, such and such will happen.”
This is like the words of the big liar: “When the moon is eclipsed in Muharram, there will be a rise in prices, fighting, and the ruler will be distracted from public affairs, and when it is eclipsed in Safar, such and such will happen… ” and so on, as the liar said concerning all the months.
All the ahaadeeth of this type are false and fabricated.
(al-Manaar al-Muneef, p. 64)